GEOFF CRAMBIE: Olde-world charm of Barnoldswick’s Esp Lane

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Our column picture this week is a truly nostalgic West Craven street scene from the 1950s. Captured by the late Alan Spencer, whose admirable archive is today carefully preserved by our Colne cameraman of great substance, Colin Bean, this evocative picture is one of hundreds of wonderful post-war local views Alan took during his years behind the camera lens.

This photo was taken back well over a half-a-century ago in Esp Lane, Barnoldswick, which has a marvellous olde-world character with its ancient, random stone-walled houses and stylised doorways. Here in Esp Lane back then, we can see a group of children all looking up the street (probably the ice-cream van’s arrived!) and of these youngsters of yesteryear, we know the names of two. The small boy in the cowboy waistcoat is Keith Hurst, while the taller boy in the Cub cap is his elder brother, Paul.

Many well-known Barnoldswick families lived in these Esp Lane cottages over the years. These included the Bracewells, Brindles, Fawcetts and the Youngs.

Over three decades ago, myself and colleague and great friend Albert Wilshaw, exchanged our Royal Mail duties at Colne to work at the Sorting Office in the Post Office buildings in Barnoldswick for a four-week period.

Albert, a truly great character and now sadly passed on, was allocated driving duties in Old Wapping, which took in Esp Lane. One early morning, Albert’s van broke down along Westgate and within minutes, householders from nearby Esp Lane had brought him two brews and a bacon buttie! Albert said later, “They treated me like a King”.

As for “Yours Truly”, I was on foot duties on the Wellhouse Road round and while delivering mail to the steep Taylor Street, I slipped on a green mossy stone step and cut my hand pretty badly. Here again, a most kind lady came to my rescue with a bandage and hot drink.

For both Albert and myself, our month working in Barlick with both the Royal Mail staff and our customers was a sheer delight.